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date: 15 October 2019

(p. xiii) Preface

(p. xiii) Preface

The Handbook’s Vision: Casting a Wide Net

The Oxford Handbook Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research Inquiry will focus its lens on the part of the research landscape where multimethod and mixed methods research (MMMR) resides. The Handbook is designed to offer a range of knowledge-building perspectives and tools to the research community who wish to traverse this landscape. The Handbook is not prescriptive but rather aims to “cast a wide net” with the goals of enhancing new ways of asking complex questions and providing valuable and innovative perspectives and tools to get at these questions. The goal is to promote a multiple theoretical and interdisciplinary vision and praxis by covering a range of theoretical approaches to mixed methods research (MMR) from qualitative-interpretative paradigms to quantitative-postpositivist perspectives. While the Handbook suggests strategies for navigating the MMMR landscape, it resists dogmatism by insisting there is no single “right answer” to any of the challenges and questions posed by the landscape.

The theoretical and practice framework stresses the importance of maintaining a tight linkage between theory and method. This linkage will avoid a methods-centric approach to MMMR and encourage researchers to begin by concentrating on the research problem and its foundational substructure. All research is rooted in a point of view, and being conscious of this focus is critical to understanding how to use any research methods tools, including MMMR designs.

This project is a place for acknowledging points of disagreement, convergence, and sometimes contention as well as conciliatory views that exist within and between diverse multimethod and mixed methods communities. The Handbook provides a space for voices at both the center and the margins of discourse on multimethod and mixed methods knowledge-building. To gain legitimacy for knowledge-building, it is critical to remain open to new ideas and be willing to dialogue across differences. For example, to what extent is our community of knowledge-builders responsive to others’ versions of reality? Dialoguing across differences serves to draw on the strengths of diversity—not to divide but to help multimethod and mixed methods researchers combine their quests to uncover complex issues. In doing so, we may produce more authentic and trustworthy research that can lead to the betterment of society. The Handbook is a resource for supporting these research goals.

The Handbook is thus positioned to offer the research community a range of critical and emerging perspectives and insights on all parts of the research process without privileging any one type of knowledge-building. It also provides (p. xiv) a set of cautionary tales that are not often discussed among those who already inhabit the MMMR landscape. It offers strategies for communication and knowledge-building in this landscape, especially regarding how to communicate across a range of differences (disciplinary, paradigmatic, methods, analytical, interpretative).

The Handbook Structure

Before proceeding with a brief walk-through of the Handbook contents, we want to stress that each chapter is intended to reach out to a range of readers: (a) researchers who come from a wide range of disciplines and practitioners within and outside the academy who seek to use “cutting-edge” MMMR approaches that can provide them with insights into the overall research process; this group also includes policymakers and activists who are interested in how to conduct research for social change; (b) academics seeking new perspectives on their teaching of research methods in their upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level research methods courses; (c) graduate students and upper-division undergraduates who wish to find out more about the field of MMMR and the range of new, cutting-edge perspectives and critiques. The variety of uses of this Handbook required careful consideration by the authors in chapter organization and writing style. The following were the goals we strove to achieve. For practitioners and policymakers, the Handbook chapters are written in as much “nontechnical” language as possible. The chapters wherever possible seek to address ongoing debates in the field, practical applications, and relevant issues for research that impacts social policy and social change.

For academics, the Handbook reflects the most current thinking about MMMR emerging within and across the disciplines. Each chapter is structured to include research examples that cross a range of disciplines, as well as interdisciplinary research settings. For faculty and students using the Handbook in their courses, chapter content (concepts/ideas) is grounded with specific examples from the literature. The chapter content also stresses the diversity of research scholarship in a given area, and some chapters take on a specific global focus. For social activists, some chapters specifically address the ongoing power relationships in which research is practiced and used and also provide methods and strategies for social change. The book is organized into five parts, each of which has a specific focus.

Part One: Linking Theory and Method in Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research

The chapters in Part One provide explanations of some important foundational issues and perspectives in the field of MMMR. The authors discuss the critical linkage between theoretical approaches and methods practices. Each chapter emphasizes the importance of considering the philosophical substructure of MMMR projects and provides some concrete case-study examples across the disciplines with regard to the application of a given theoretical perspective in the praxis of MMMR research.

In Chapter 1, Sharlene Hesse-Biber, Deborah Rodriguez, and Nollaig A. Frost discuss the range of meanings regarding “ A Qualitatively Driven Approach to (p. xv) Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research.” Their objective is to look at the types of reasons researchers might deploy in their work and what specific questions interface well with this approach. They provide in-depth case studies of the applications of a qualitatively driven MMMR approach across a range of research and disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.

In Chapter 2, Melvin M. Mark looks at quantitatively driven mixed methods designs. Melvin M. Mark clarifies distinctions between mixed methods and multimethod research and then explains the many different ways in which MMMR can be employed in a quantitatively driven study. The chapter points out that there is a long history of mixing methods, prior to mixed methods literature, and this literature can be useful. There is judgment required to decide which aspects of a study to mix or make multiple, and it is important to put the research question as the forefront of the study rather than the methods.

In Chapter 3, “Thinking Outside the Q Boxes,” Lisa D. Pearce argues that social inquiry need not be tightly bound and limited by placing inquiry into two conceptual boxes labeled “qualitative” and “quantitative.” Multimethod and mixed methods research is often seen as combining or integrating things from each box. Pearce argues that there are many ways researchers can reach across these conceptual divides through a range of dialogical processes that can open up space for innovation and creativity in research inquiry that is “holistic” in character. She advocates for a “mixed research” model for breaking out of the qualitative/quantitative binary and viewing these two modes of inquiry lying along a continuum.

In Chapter 4, John W. Creswell revisits his long history in designing and conducting mixed methods with the goal of advancing scientific practices. He presents 10 scientific practices that have emerged in the past decade that signal the arrival of mixed methods as a “science.” His central thesis is that to best reach a practical audience that seeks to conduct this form of inquiry, a focus on scientific practices needs to occur. This chapter identifies these practices, explains the recent literature on each, and highlights significant articles that illustrate these practices.

In Chapter 5, “Feminist Approaches to Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research: Theory and Praxis,” authors Sharlene Hesse-Biber and Amy J. Griffin explore the evolution of feminist perspectives across the decades. They first introduce the specific goals of feminist praxis and how feminist researchers aim to unearth subjugated knowledge and empower marginalized populations. They go on to examine the different methods, both quantitative and qualitative, feminist researchers employ and how they mix methods to develop a nuanced understanding of lived experience of women and other oppressed groups. They provide in-depth examples and case studies that use a feminist approach to multimethod and mixed methods that specifically link theory with methods.

In Chapter 6, “Transformative and Indigenous Frameworks for Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research,” Fiona Cram and Donna M. Mertens critically examine the philosophical and theoretical stances that are associated with addressing issues of social transformation and Indigenous rights through the (p. xvi) use of MMMR. They identify the application of transformative principles and Indigenous approaches in the design of MMMR studies from a variety of sectors and countries. They evaluate arguments related to the role of MMMR with regard to facilitating issues of human rights and social justice.

In Chapter 7, Olena Hankivisky and Daniel Grace analyze and emphasize difference and intersectionality in “Understanding and Emphasizing Difference and Intersectionality in Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research.” They provide an overview of intersectionality, specifically looking at its research questions and principles, and they analyze both quantitative and qualitative intersectionality informed approaches. The authors use HIV and education research as case studies to show how researchers use intersectionality in mixed methods projects.

In Chapter 8, “Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research,” Rick Szostak encourages collaboration between interdisciplinary and MMMR researchers. He compares and contrasts the insights of interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity and then draws insights from these literatures for MMMR approaches.

In Chapter 9, “Putting Ethics on the Mixed Methods Map,” Judith Preissle, Rebecca M. Glover-Kudon, Elizabeth A. Rohan, Jennifer E. Boehm, and Amy DeGroff examine ethics in MMR by assessing the current literature. They also discuss and provide examples of ethical challenges and issues that arise in all phases of MMR. Last, the chapter explores how MMR may help provide flexibility to make ethical and moral decisions.

Part Two: Conducting Exploratory, Confirmatory, and Interactive Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research

The second part of the Handbook focuses on the variety of issues and problems researchers confront in their practice of mixing theoretical approaches across the research process. How does adding a new method change the nature of research praxis? We highlight some of the most important of these general “praxis” issues, as researchers hailing from a range of different theoretical perspectives begin to apply MMMR designs in the service of answering their research questions.

In Chapter 10, Jennifer Leeman, Corrine I. Voils, and Margarete Sandelowski look at mixed methods literature reviews and how they can be synthesized and used as evidence to contribute to complex social and health interventions. The authors illustrate and give examples of how mixed methods literature reviews have been applied to complex interventions. Some of the challenges that arise, as well as suggestions for overcoming them, are also discussed.

Albert Hunter and John Brewer focus on “Designing Multimethod Research” in Chapter 11. The chapter first gives a historical timeline of quantitative, qualitative, and multimethod research approaches. The authors describe the many different ways multimethod research can be carried out, such as combinations of quantitative approaches, qualitative approaches, or a mixture of quantitative and qualitative approaches. By the end of the chapter, the reader should also (p. xvii) understand the “enacted” and “emergent” aspects of research design and understand the difference between contextual and structural effects in research.

In Chapter 12, Janice M. Morse provides a detailed analytical frame for looking at “Issues in Qualitatively Driven Mixed-Method Designs: Walking Through a Mixed-Method Project.” Morse takes the reader through a qualitatively driven mixed method design from idea to completion. Using a hypothetical project, she illustrates the process and discusses strategies for maintaining rigor in mixed methods designs, such as theoretical drive, pacing, and diagramming. The chapter also helps the reader navigate pitfalls and issues that may arise when using qualitative methods and discusses how to surmount the difficulties.

Chapter 13, “Designing Integration in Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research,” explores the research design in a mixed or multimethod study. Authors Joseph Maxwell, Margaret Chmiel, and Sylvia E. Rogers want the reader to understand how to integrate multiple models in their work, as well as how to draw conclusions and test interpretations from integrating qualitative and quantitative data. Because there is still some lack of understanding about integrating approaches and methods, the authors suggest researchers should consider writing about their experiences more.

Chapter 14, “Validity in Multimethod and Mixed Research,” Kathleen M. T. Collins explores the understanding of integration as a defining characteristic of MMMR. She also emphasizes the importance of clarity of language when discussing this methodology. The chapter looks at the key attributes of defining validity across the different research paradigms, and determining the combination of validity types relevant for each research study.

Julia Brannen and Rebecca O’Connell identify the ways in which data from mixed methods research can be integrated in Chapter 15, “Data Analysis I: Overview of Data Analysis Strategies.” The chapter enables the reader to consider issues that are likely to affect the analysis of mixed methods research, and it identifies ways MMMR can be integrated to give examples of different strategies. Using a particular type of MMMR in which national survey data are analyzed along with a qualitative study, the authors examine the complexities of analyzing data when integrating qualitative and quantitative data.

In Chapter 16, Tony J. Onwuegbuzie and John H. Hitchcock take another look at data analysis in mixed methods research. Their chapter, “Advanced Mixed Analysis Approaches,” outlines advanced mixed analysis approaches and introduces a conceptual framework called crossover mixed analysis. The authors discuss this framework and how it can be used for many different research philosophies.

In Chapter 17, Pat Bazeley discusses how to write up a MMMR project. She encourages researchers to integrate the mixed and multimethod results in the presentation rather than separating results. She uses examples and gives strategies for researchers to do this throughout her chapter, “Writing Up Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research for Diverse Audiences.”

In Chapter 18, Jennifer P. Wisdom and Michael D. Fetters discuss specific strategies and proposals for funding mixed methods research. “Funding for Mixed Methods Research: Sources and Strategies” describes how to interpret sponsors’ funding opportunities in order to prepare a strong MMR project proposal that has a (p. xviii) high probability of being funded. The chapter also provides insights for how applications are evaluated and how to interpret reviewers’ feedback to strengthen proposals.

The last chapter in this section, Chapter 19, is “Mentoring the Next Generation in Mixed Methods Research.” Rebecca K. Frels, Isadore Newman, and Carole Newman’s chapter identifies some key considerations in mentoring practices. Through the use of first-person mentoring accounts, they demonstrate how mentoring praxis in MMR involves a humanistic process. They provide a specific framework for how to supervise and mentor the next generation of mixed methods researchers from a humanistic standpoint.

Part Three: Contextualizing Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research Within and Across Disciplines and Applied Settings

In Part Three, we address how mixed and multimethod designs are practiced across the disciplines and in applied research settings. What types of research issues and problems are addressed within these disciplinary borders? With what results? What are some of the particular issues that researchers in applied settings confront as they integrate MMMR into their research? What are some of the specific techniques used in these specific disciplines and settings?

Chapter 20 starts off Part Three with “Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research in the Fields of Education and Anthropology” by Jori N. Hall and Judith Preissle. The authors consider the differences and similarities of research in education and anthropology and how mixed methods approaches in these fields can contribute to social services. After looking at the evolution of research in these fields, the authors talk about ways that mixed and multimethod approaches can be applied to the fields of education and anthropology, and they identify key challenges of conducting this type of research in the specified fields. Last, the chapter explores the future of how MMMR will be reconstructed and applied in education and anthropology research.

In Chapter 21, “Evolving Mixed and Multimethod Approaches in Psychology,” Nollaig A. Frost and Rachel L. Shaw first identify why method has become so important for psychology. They proceed to help the reader understand how and why psychology has demanded more complex and nuanced insights into human behavior, requiring both qualitative and quantitative approaches. They also consider the emergence of mixed methods such as Q methodology and pragmatism in psychology.

Bradley D. Olson and Leonard A. Jason describe participatory MMR in Chapter 22, “Participatory Mixed Methods Research.” They illustrate how this approach is used with a community-based network of resident-run recovery homes for substance abuse. University researchers paired up with a self-help organization for over 20 years to investigate what occurs in the recovery homes. The mixed quantitative and qualitative methods gave both the community members and the researchers a richer understanding of what was going on in these recovery homes. The chapter points out advantages of mixed-group methods and the future directions for this type of a participatory framework.

Chapter 23, “Moving from Randomized Controlled Trials to Mixed Methods Intervention Evaluations,” explores why mixed methods intervention evaluations are needed and the different ways they can be carried out. Sarah J. Drabble and (p. xix) Alicia O’Cathain also note some of the challenges and solutions when undertaking mixed methods intervention evaluations.

Donna M. Mertens and Michelle Tarsilla describe the history of mixed methods evaluation and why mixed methods are important in evaluation in Chapter 24, “Mixed Methods Evaluation.” The authors define MMR in evaluation, provide examples of evaluations that have been conducted, and discuss issues that might arise from using mixed or multimethod approaches in evaluations. The chapter concludes with a discussion about directions for the future.

Multimethod and mixed methods are well suited to prevention research in global health, even though their application has not been thoroughly discussed at this point, according to Stevan Weine in Chapter 25, “Applying Multimethod and Mixed Methods to Prevention Research in Global Health.” Weine illustrates the key opportunities and challenges of using multimethod and mixed methods for undergoing prevention research. He uses an example of a study about HIV risk and protection among Tajik labor migrants, and he talks about using strategic triangulation as a key preventive intervention.

The main objectives of Chapter 26, “History and Emergent Practices of Multimethod and Mixed Methods in Business Research,” are to provide a historical overview of business scholars who pioneered MMMR and examine the recent works about multimethod and mixed methods in the business field. The authors, José F. Molina-Azorin and Roslyn A. Cameron, provide exemplars to show the reader how the research works, and they end the chapter by providing a future agenda for mixed methods in the business research community.

Chapter 27 rounds out this section by engaging with traditional international development evaluation approaches and asks the question: “How Does Mixed Methods Research Add Value to Our Understanding of Development?” Nicola A. Jones, Paola Pereznieto, and Elizabeth Presler-Marshall first discuss the overall challenges evaluators face in undertaking research in a developing country context. They explore the issues of traditional standard “one-size-fits-all” development models that often did not address the issues and needs of diverse local cultural contexts. They advocate taking a mixed methods approach that can add more complex, localized understanding of the efficacy and value of any given intervention. They explore these ideas using in-depth case studies that deploy a MMR design.

Part Four: Incorporating New Technologies into Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research

Part Four begins with an exploration of the varied ways in which qualitative and quantitative methods have been combined using new technologies. In Chapter 28, “Mixed Methods and Multimodal Research and Internet Technologies,” Christine M. Hine explores the motivations of mixing methods in Internet research and gives examples of how this can be done. She also points out the methodological advantages, as well as the challenges, of using mixed modal approaches in Internet research.

Chapter 29, “Conducting Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research Online,” examines conducting research online using MMMR approaches. (p. xx) Janet E. Salmons uses selected exemplars to show that researchers can use a wide range of information and communications technologies, such as e-mail, social media, mapping tools, videoconferencing, and more. She analyzes a set of exemplars to look at how the different technologies influence the experiences of the researchers, participants, and the phenomena being investigated.

In Chapter 30, “Emergent Technologies in Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research: Incorporating Mobile Technologies,” Leo Remijn, Nathalie Stembert, Ingrid J. Mulder, and Sunil Choenni analyze how mobile technologies can be used in MMMR. Smartphones today are increasing in functionality and can measure ambient light, GPS, accelerometer, and temperature. Emergent technologies such as this can offer a lot to MMMR. First the authors give an overview of the mobile devices that are emerging, and then they explain how the technologies create new possibilities to gather, process, and interpret data.

In Chapter 31 Jane L. Fielding and Nigel G. Fielding also look at emergent technologies in MMMR, but they focus on GIS and CAQDAS. The objectives of the chapter, “Emergent Technologies in Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research: Incorporating GIS and CAQDAS,” are to introduce spatial analysis in MMMR and explain the use of technologies for data collection and analysis in MMMR through examples and strategies.

Part Five: Commentaries: Dialoguing About Future Directions of Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research

This is a section in the Handbook where divergent perspectives are highlighted. There are many points of disagreement, convergence, and sometimes contention as well as conciliatory outcomes. Part Five adds to the many voices at the center and margins of discourse on knowledge-building in the area of MMMR. To gain legitimacy for knowledge-building, it is critical to remain open to new ideas and be willing to dialogue across differences. For example, to what extent is our community of knowledge-builders responsive to each other’s versions of reality? Dialoguing across our differences serves to draw on the strengths of its diversity—not to divide but to help mixed and multimethod researchers combine their quests to uncover complex issues, and it is hoped in doing so we can produce more authentic and trustworthy research that can lead to the betterment of society.

Chapter 32 titled, “What Problem Are We Trying to Solve? Practical and Innovative Uses of Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research,” aims to understand how MMMR can be justified on the basis of its practical utility and its potential to facilitate innovation. The authors, Thomas A. Schwandt and Lauren Lichty, emphasize that MMMR can contribute new ideas and solutions to complex social problems.

Udo Kelle adds to this section with his chapter, “Mixed Methods and the Problems of Theory Building and Theory Testing in the Social Sciences.” Chapter 33 aims to distinguish between the application, the testing, and the building of theories that can be used in qualitative and quantitative research. Kelle wants the reader to recognize how theory is used and how problems of theory are solved in different mixed methods designs.

(p. xxi) In Chapter 34, “Preserving Distinctions Within the Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research Merger,” Jennifer C. Greene argues against a multimethod and mixed methods merger. She analyzes in detail two evaluation designs of the same obesity prevention program. One design uses a multimethod approach and the other uses a mixed methods approach. Greene discusses these two different designs and in doing so provides a strong argument for preserving this methods distinction.

Albert Hunter and John Brewer’s Chapter 35, “Conundrums of Multimethod Research,” examines three types of conundrums that continue to blur researchers’ understanding of just what multimethod research is about and how to differentiate its contribution from other methods approaches such as mixed methods. One conundrum they consider is the relation of multimethod to the social sciences, the second concerns how mulitmethod relates to social theory (methods strive to initiate, reformulate, refocus, and clarify theory), and the third conundrum raises issues about the very definition of what multimethod research is (it can be multiple quantitative or qualitative methods and it can also include a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods). Multimethod approaches are particularly good at getting at multilevel analyses that examine both structural effects and individual properties.

Guidelines for MMR projects centers around the degree to which guidelines for best practices should be institutionalized. This prompts questions such as: How much guidance is helpful, in what, and from where? What roles do and should forms of guidelines for best practice in MMR play in the development of these research approaches? Julianne Cheek, in Chapter 36, looks at the impacts of moving the field of mixed methods toward best practice guidelines. If this move happens, it might impact what can be called MMR and how it can be carried out. Cheek notes that such a move could compromise the “mixed methods way of thinking” and move to new forms of methods-centric thinking. This is discussed in her chapter, “It Depends: Possible Impacts of Moving the Field of Mixed Methods Research Toward Best Practice Guidelines.”

How can we harness MMR for social justice in the short and long run? Sharon Crasnow’s Chapter 37, “Feminism, Causation, and Mixed Method Research,” explores methodological, epistemological, and ontological implications of causality and how feminist research might combine methods in support of feminist social justice goals.

In Chapter 38, “Causality, Generalizability, and the Future of Mixed Methods Research,” Robert K. Yin also considers causation in the context of generalizability in MMR. In addition he looks at the future contributions of MMR and how the mixing of methods can augment preexisting qualities of qualitative and quantitative methods.

In Chapter 39, “Mixed Methods: Dissonance and Values in Research With Marginalized Groups,” co-authors, Dawn Freshwater and Pamela Fisher addresses the preoccupation with integration of data and how this can undermine social justice–related aspirations by erasing marginalized perspectives. They identify (p. xxii) this as a particular feature of MMR undertaken in medicine and health sciences. They look at the value of research conducted in transformative-emancipatory paradigms.

Chapter 40, “Harnessing Global Social Justice and Social Change with Multimethod and Mixed Methods Research,” looks at the context of inequities and the need to understand the problems before solutions are sought. Fiona Cram discusses tools that can be used to enable researchers to privilege the voices of the marginalized. She also looks at how MMMR can evaluate the initiatives that seek to redress inequities.

We hope that this Handbook will foster dialogue across methodological and methods divides. We urge our readers to engage with their own set of values onto the social world and engage reflexively regarding how their values may enter into their research practice at all stages of the research process—from the choice of a research question to their selection of a set of methods, designs, analyses, and interpretations. We strongly believe that engagement with these issues has the potential to lead to a set of rich new questions that can foster a deep and complex understanding of our social world.

Our best wishes to all,

Sharlene Hesse-Biber and R. Burke Johnson